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West End searches for musicals mojo

Friday, March 28, 2014 - 02:27

Mar. 28 - A musical based on the TV talent show has opened in London's West End ''I Can't Sing - The X Factor Musical'', backed by music mogul Simon Cowell. Media reports have said there have been disappointing ticket sales in advance. It comes after a couple of other high profile shows closed early. Joanna Partridge looks at the risky business of putting on a musical.

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Life imitating art - or is it art imitating life? Music mogul Simon Cowell attending the new West End show - "I Can't Sing - The X Factor Musical". Not only is Cowell its financial backer, he's also portrayed in the latest show to hit London's theatreland. Director Simon Foley is hoping for success. SOUNDBITE: 'I CAN'T SING!' DIRECTOR, SIMON FOLEY, SAYING (English): "We don't even know if it is going to be a success. I mean that is really up to the public to decide. I mean, essentially, any show you put on is really down to then the audience, do they like it." Despite its celebrity backers and cast, "I Can't Sing" has already been plagued by production problems. Two early previews were cancelled due to technical issues. There've also been media reports of disappointing ticket sales - with seats available at short-notice for the opening week. Alistair Smith is Acting Editor of The Stage. SOUNDBITE: Alistair Smith, Acting Editor, The Stage, saying (English): "It's a good show, I think you need to know The X Factor at least in part to get the jokes, but you probably don't want to love The X Factor too much otherwise you might not laugh with them. And I don't think it's a show necessarily for a traditional musical theatre audience." PTC Theatre-goers aren't short of choice in London's West End, and the city's theatres saw another record box office year in 2013, although not all shows are as successful as Mamma Mia. Critics say a key to popularity is appealing to locals and tourists. Several other high-profile shows have recently found it hard to make a splash with audiences. The Spice Girls musical Viva Forever flopped. Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest show, Stephen Ward, is closing early at the end of March. His former partner Tim Rice's From Here To Eternity is also due to shut after five months. SOUNDBITE: Alistair Smith, Acting Editor, The Stage, saying (English): "There were specific reasons why those shows didn't do well. But I'm not sure it's part of a wider trend. Other than the kind of ongoing thing which is that most musicals don't succeed. I think the general rule of thumb is that out of every 10 shows, 6 or 7 lose money, a couple break even and then one will make a profit. And the one that does make money can often make a lot of money, but it's a bit like start-ups." I Can't Sing cost a rumoured 6 million pounds to bring to the West End - above the presumed average of around 3 million for some other musicals. It's estimated it will have to run for at least a year to recoup the costs.

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West End searches for musicals mojo

Friday, March 28, 2014 - 02:27